Toward the end of a recent trip to Hawaii, phones throughout our group of friends began buzzing. One of the couples on the trip had located 100 percent Kona coffee beans for sale at Long's Drugs for $8 per pound. They activated the network, and before long, everyone was passing on the message.
Though I didn't participate in the rush on the local drug store, I grew up understanding the importance of good beans and excellent coffee. My Dad was a Foreign Service officer, and when I was growing up overseas, my parents eagerly awaited their monthly shipment of beans from the Community Coffee Company in Baton Rouge. Two sounds marked every morning in my house: The crackle of either the Voice of America or the Armed Forces radio broadcasts, and the whirr of the coffee grinder.
January is International Gourmet Coffee Month, and therefore a great time to shake up your coffee routine and try something new. Do you usually brew your coffee using an automatic drip pot? Try the French press or filter method and see how that changes your coffee experience. Do you always use the same kind of beans? Visit your local coffee shop (by now, almost every US town has one within striking distance) and ask them for a recommendation on a new bean to try. If you don't want to commit to a full pound or half-pound of a new kind, ask if you can buy the beans in bulk.
Though the beans won't be as recently-roasted, another great place to get a small amount of bulk coffee beans is your local grocery store. Try a couple of different roasts and bean types--you might be surprised at what tastes good to you. Every bean carries a slightly different flavor profile, depending on where it was grown and harvested and how it was roasted.
Almost all the coffee we drink comes from one kind of bean or another: arabica or robusta. Faith of The Kitchn explains the difference between the two, and offers a helpful warning for those who are caffeine-sensitive--one has significantly more of the jitter-enhancing chemical than the other.
Another label to look for when trying a new coffee is the Fair Trade designation. This means the growers and farm workers are more likely to be receiving a higher wage for their work to produce the coffee, and that the coffee is being grown in a sustainable way.
Here are some other coffee posts to enjoy over your morning cup:
Yumsugar asks the ultimate coffee connoisseur question: Would you be willing to drink coffee made from beans that have been consumed...and excreted, if you know what I mean...by the Southeast Asian palm civet? And would you be willing to pay more than $100 per pound for the privilege?
E of Foodaphilia participated in a cupping, or coffee tasting, when Peet's introduced their coffee to a chain of retail stores in the Philadelphia area. Among the things she learned at the cupping was the proper procedure for brewing an excellent pot of French-pressed coffee.
When it comes to coffee, knowing what to order can change from country to country. Need to know the difference between a café cortado and a café con leche? Pim of Chez Pim gives a concise and clear primer on Spain's most popular types of coffee drinks.
How do you drink your coffee? French press? Drip? On the run? At your desk? Share your coffee stories and adventures in the comments below.
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